Introduction: The ways people pursue God, or even pray, can be as different as the very people who pursue God. Spiritual writers and mentors have long appreciated these varieties of pathways that pilgrims have followed in their prayer journey. For example, many are led to deep devotion through such things as music, contemplation or activism, but others have found that it’s the beauty and mystery of the natural, created world that leads them to a humbling encounter of praise and prayer with their Creator God. Of course, the pathways mix to varying degrees according to our personalities and interests.
Those who find nature an important spiritual pathway can see their own faith story unfold in the creation story of Genesis 1 and 2 in the Christian and Jewish Bible. Being mindful not to worship creation but only the Creator, a consideration of the natural world not only helps them do that, but also guides them in their stewardship of what God has created. Each day this week we will look to the ‘seven day’ creation story from these first two chapters of the Bible’s very first book. All references are from the Bible’s New Revised Standard Version.
Day 4 – “Aware” -- And God said, “Let there be lights in the… sky… to give light upon the earth…” (Genesis 1:14-15)
Reflect: Lights in the firmament… Yes, enjoying the beauty of sky phenomena – sunrises and sets, rainbows, shooting stars, clouds, sundogs, aurora, glorioles, constellations and planets – is all about being in the right place at the right time to see them. But they’re also about something else: awareness. How often have I lifted my eyes to a fading rainbow or gloriole (a ring around the sun -- see photo above, a shot I took while visiting my daughter in ALaska), or missed the meteorite someone else in the group is always bound to see, because I was too preoccupied to notice them. I not only missed the chance for beauty, I missed the chance for gratitude. Say nothing of the pleasures of the more heady pursuits of astronomy or meteorology; there are myriad simple pleasures to be observed.
Oh, to have the curious, wholehearted spirit of a King David in Psalm 8, or of a John Muir, the grandpappy of Christian naturalists, who was quoted, “Look at that now… And to think that God should plan to bring us feckless creatures here at just the right moment, and then flash such glories at us! Man, we are not worthy of such honor! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!” I’m not even certain what ‘feckless’ is, but I can get an idea from Muir’s enthusiasm!
Here’s the clincher, though. Our awareness of God’s constant presence can be as overlooked as our failure to notice or appreciate a rainbow. God said to Noah, “…it shall be a sign…” (Genesis 9:13) How many other signs of God’s presence and faithfulness do I routinely snub?
Observe: We’re back to looking to the sky today, as we did on day 2, but I’ll not ask for a five-minute retreat. Whenever outdoors, try today or tomorrow to simply look up several times throughout the day. Use that moment to notice what God might have up there; but then use the moment also to express your gratitude for God’s relentless, brooding presence over you.
Pray: Lord, a hymnwriter wrote that your lights in the sky “…join with all nature in manifold witness to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.” I may not notice the glories of the sky as often as you present them, but may I never fail to notice your communications and activity in my life. Amen.
Hymn for the Day: “Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies”
Link for the Day: A blogpost of mine on the size of the universe